The Green Washing of Local Food Movement

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sardia
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The Green Washing of Local Food Movement

Postby sardia » Fri Jun 08, 2012 7:54 am UTC

http://www.freakonomics.com/2012/06/07/ ... o-podcast/
Summary: If you cared about the environment, or climate change and you are doing so by eating local foods, it's all a lie. Getting a steak from the farm outside of town is worse than getting a portobello mushroom from the other side of the world. There are reasons to eat local, it tastes better/fresher, or if it's is cheaper. However, environmental protection is not one of them, the numbers don't work out.

After reading the article, it reminded me of two principles that I forgotten. Economies of scale, and how important urbanization is compared to rural or suburban life. e.g. Moving people into high rise apartments, and concentrating them into high density cities conserves an astonishing amount of resources.

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Re: The Green Washing of Local Food Movement

Postby Ormurinn » Fri Jun 08, 2012 9:27 am UTC

sardia wrote:After reading the article, it reminded me of two principles that I forgotten. Economies of scale, and how important urbanization is compared to rural or suburban life. e.g. Moving people into high rise apartments, and concentrating them into high density cities conserves an astonishing amount of resources.


I'm not sure what you're getting at here. Cities are a huge drain on the resources of the rest of the country. It'd be fairly trivial for the village I'm lucky enough to live in to go self-sufficient in food, but even a one-day disruption in electrical supply would gut most cities.

Concentrating people into cities only conserves resources when theres a plentiful supply of cheap energy and state-subsidised transport (taxpayer-funded road networks for instance). to bus in the resources they can't produce themselves. How is this more efficient (overall) than splitting those cities up into smaller, self sufficient communities? Of course theres a gain in effeciency for businesses being closer together, but with the internet and modern communication that's significantly less of a factor than it was.

If you're talking solely about CO2 emissions you may be correct, and your link is certainly interesting. Glaeser's article is interesting especially (theres a link in the article you linked to.) http://articles.boston.com/2011-06-16/b ... local-food

-but he (and the article you posted) are operating under the assumption that, having integrated our cities into the environment rather than standing coldly aloof, people's commuting habits will remain the same. The solution isn't "eliminate urban gardens, so commutes wil be shorter" It's "distribute businesses more widely, so commutes will be shorter. Theres also the consideration that living in a grey airbrick would be unpleaseant for most people, and green spaces have been shown to improve the mental health of inhabitants. Neither apear to have considered the carbon sink effect of having trees and plants near a large concentration of pollution, rather than off in the hinterlands.
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Re: The Green Washing of Local Food Movement

Postby Ulc » Fri Jun 08, 2012 9:43 am UTC

It's important to note, it doesn't protect the environment, but neither does it harm it more. The two a practically the same in regards to the environment, at least according to that article.

But one of the points where eating locally might save the environment yet, is that it will hopefully reintroduce a certain respect for the animals and produce we eat. Scandolous amounts of food are thrown out, and people eat absurd amount of meat, without even knowing how to use it properly. If we can teach people* respect what they eat, use it well, and use it completely, it'll reduce our waste. If half of each cow wasn't practically thrown out, we could massively reduce the

A chef I know (and hope to work for soon) recently made a dinner he called "from murder to table", where he prepared and served lamb tartar while showing a slideshow of the lamb through it's life, slaughter and preparation. The entire point of it was to shock people, to make them remember that meat doesn't come from meat processing plants, but from animals. It's dead animal tissue, and we should respect the animal we eat - treat it well when it's alive, slaughter it as painlessly as possible, and strive to use every part of the animal, and use it well. Don't kill animals because "well, dinners gotta have meat *slaps slab of pan, preparing it completely wrong so it tastes of nothing*", kill them because they are delicious, and deserve your respect, even as you chew them.

That's what the "eat local" movement goes toward, and that's how it can change things. Hopefully it'll mean people eat less, but better prepared meat, and only when it actually improves the dish.

25 million pigs die in Denmark each year, without being eaten. They are penned up, get sick, get slaughtered and thrown out because the customers can't be assed to buy decent quality, so the producers make shitty quality in large amounts. It's practically criminal. And when we stop rising 25 million digs to throw them on the compost heap, the environment will feel it.

But you're quite right, if the wastage and consumer habits doesn't change - if they don't start using the whole animal, and stop eating meat because they are supposed to eat it, not because it's good - then it wont change anything. But fuck those habits, they gotta go, and fast!


*Note: I'm fairly passionate about this, teaching people to respect what they stuff in them are one of my big goals in life. It's a topic that can get me ranting fairly fast, sorry.
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Re: The Green Washing of Local Food Movement

Postby Zamfir » Fri Jun 08, 2012 10:48 am UTC

Ormurinn wrote:Concentrating people into cities only conserves resources when theres a plentiful supply of cheap energy and state-subsidised transport (taxpayer-funded road networks for instance). to bus in the resources they can't produce themselves. How is this more efficient (overall) than splitting those cities up into smaller, self sufficient communities?

Because modern small communities are not anywhere near self-sufficient either, and need even more roads and energy than larger communities.

Ulc wrote:A chef I know (and hope to work for soon) recently made a dinner he called "from murder to table", where he prepared and served lamb tartar while showing a slideshow of the lamb through it's life, slaughter and preparation. The entire point of it was to shock people, to make them remember that meat doesn't come from meat processing plants, but from animals. It's dead animal tissue, and we should respect the animal we eat - treat it well when it's alive, slaughter it as painlessly as possible, and strive to use every part of the animal, and use it well. Don't kill animals because "well, dinners gotta have meat *slaps slab of pan, preparing it completely wrong so it tastes of nothing*", kill them because they are delicious, and deserve your respect, even as you chew them.

Yes this.

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Re: The Green Washing of Local Food Movement

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Jun 08, 2012 11:47 am UTC

Zamfir wrote:
Ormurinn wrote:Concentrating people into cities only conserves resources when theres a plentiful supply of cheap energy and state-subsidised transport (taxpayer-funded road networks for instance). to bus in the resources they can't produce themselves. How is this more efficient (overall) than splitting those cities up into smaller, self sufficient communities?

Because modern small communities are not anywhere near self-sufficient either, and need even more roads and energy than larger communities.


To say nothing of the heating costs per person in a suburban home than a highrise, or the fuel costs from commuting 2 hours each way.

Ulc wrote:And when [Denmark] stops raising 25 million pigs to throw them on the compost heap


So that's the rotten smell in the state of Denmark!

But yeah, we do tend to eat too much meat. Like so much, our bodies literally can't digest it all. If you smell up half the house every time you use the toilet, you are probably ingesting too much protein. Despite what the Atkins diehards insist, extra protein isn't helping you.

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Re: The Green Washing of Local Food Movement

Postby Ormurinn » Fri Jun 08, 2012 12:19 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:
Zamfir wrote:
Ormurinn wrote:Concentrating people into cities only conserves resources when theres a plentiful supply of cheap energy and state-subsidised transport (taxpayer-funded road networks for instance). to bus in the resources they can't produce themselves. How is this more efficient (overall) than splitting those cities up into smaller, self sufficient communities?

Because modern small communities are not anywhere near self-sufficient either, and need even more roads and energy than larger communities.


To say nothing of the heating costs per person in a suburban home than a highrise, or the fuel costs from commuting 2 hours each way.


Oh, suburbs are just as unnatural, but cities in the modern sense are far from optimal in any way whatsoever. Theres no way the modern concept of a city will survive peak oil - it'd just be nice to see a shift away from urban living be more gradual.


CorruptUser wrote:But yeah, we do tend to eat too much meat. Like so much, our bodies literally can't digest it all. If you smell up half the house every time you use the toilet, you are probably ingesting too much protein. Despite what the Atkins diehards insist, extra protein isn't helping you.


In dietary terms, most people consume too many sugars and too little protein. We eat too much muscle meat and too few cuts of offal, but there are plenty of cultures that live on an almost purely meat diet and have positive health outcomes. Heart disease only became a problem for the massai, for instance, when grains were introduced to their diet. Looking at the fossil record, the advent of agriculture (and the transition from a high-meat hunting based diet to one based on grains) led to a shocking decline in average height and dental health, as well as increased incidence of nutrient deficiencies.

Humans, biologically, are persistence pack hunters. It's why we evolved bipedalism (to run prey to death across vast distances), it's why our gut is shorter than comparable primates (nutrients in a carnivorous diet are more readily acessible, so you need less square footage of intestinal tract to absorb it) It's why we have such sophisticated social behaviours, and it's why we have extended scapulae (makes throwing easier, but climbing harder). Its why every culture across the planet plays hunting-derived games like tag - humans have a prey drive just like dogs do - and that humans and wild dogs have the same hunting pattern made dogs the first known domesticate.

People don't eat too much meat. They eat too much crap meat.
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Re: The Green Washing of Local Food Movement

Postby iamspen » Fri Jun 08, 2012 12:24 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:It's why we evolved bipedalism (to run prey to death across vast distances...


Since humans are not good runners, I prefer the theory that we developed bipedalism because being able to carry things back to the group vastly increased our survival.

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Re: The Green Washing of Local Food Movement

Postby JBJ » Fri Jun 08, 2012 12:33 pm UTC

iamspen wrote:
Ormurinn wrote:It's why we evolved bipedalism (to run prey to death across vast distances...
Since humans are not good runners, I prefer the theory that we developed bipedalism because being able to carry things back to the group vastly increased our survival.

The Tarahumara people would like to have a word with you about that...
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Re: The Green Washing of Local Food Movement

Postby Ghostbear » Fri Jun 08, 2012 12:36 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:Oh, suburbs are just as unnatural, but cities in the modern sense are far from optimal in any way whatsoever. Theres no way the modern concept of a city will survive peak oil - it'd just be nice to see a shift away from urban living be more gradual.

As transportation costs go up, cities become more economical (relative to the alternatives), not less. If everybody lived in cities, all of the necessary transportation (foods, goods, people between cities, etc.) could be switched to rail with minimal complications. If everyone lives in a rural setting, cars are going to stay the feasible transportation method. Unless you're projecting a complete collapse of connected society, we'll be becoming more and more urban, not less.

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Re: The Green Washing of Local Food Movement

Postby iamspen » Fri Jun 08, 2012 12:46 pm UTC

JBJ wrote:The Tarahumara people would like to have a word with you about that...


Damn it, Nova! Now I feel I've learned nothing from watching it in marathon sessions!

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Re: The Green Washing of Local Food Movement

Postby KestrelLowing » Fri Jun 08, 2012 1:35 pm UTC

iamspen wrote:
JBJ wrote:The Tarahumara people would like to have a word with you about that...


Damn it, Nova! Now I feel I've learned nothing from watching it in marathon sessions!


Spoilered for off topic:
Spoiler:
Huh, I remember learning from Nova that once you get past marathon distance, humans are the best at running. Basically, a lot of predators have a certain distance that they are the best at running (in general). You know, the whole find a niche and fill it. For example, cheetahs are the fastest in short distances, but they can't keep that up too much. I believe greyhounds or similar dogs are the fastest at about 5 miles. Humans are the fastest at really, really long distances. (You know, provided we are actually physically active).


I think it really depends where you live as to how "green" eating local is. For example, if you lived in California, I would expect that eating local would actually be green as so many things grow so easily there. Michigan in the summer is another example as Michigan has tons of different fruits and vegetables that grow here.

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Re: The Green Washing of Local Food Movement

Postby iamspen » Fri Jun 08, 2012 1:56 pm UTC

KestrelLowing wrote:
Spoiler:
Huh, I remember learning from Nova that once you get past marathon distance, humans are the best at running. Basically, a lot of predators have a certain distance that they are the best at running (in general). You know, the whole find a niche and fill it. For example, cheetahs are the fastest in short distances, but they can't keep that up too much. I believe greyhounds or similar dogs are the fastest at about 5 miles. Humans are the fastest at really, really long distances. (You know, provided we are actually physically active).


Spoiler:
I remember watching, "Becoming Human," I think, and a few guys came out and said, "This is what we used to think, but ACTUALLY..." They went on to explain how bipedalism changed our teeth, and how that led to monogamous relationships. To be fair, I could be misremembering exactly which documentary I was watching, it may not have been Nova at all, so there's that.

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Re: The Green Washing of Local Food Movement

Postby Zamfir » Fri Jun 08, 2012 2:06 pm UTC

KestrelLowing wrote:I think it really depends where you live as to how "green" eating local is. For example, if you lived in California, I would expect that eating local would actually be green as so many things grow so easily there. Michigan in the summer is another example as Michigan has tons of different fruits and vegetables that grow here.

The article claims it doesn't, they use Santa Barbara as example even. The main argument is apparently that most energy use is in food production, not transportation. So food from far away needs only be a bit more efficient at the source to offset the transportation.

Still, it's freakonomics, with their tendency to cherrypick for counterintuitive results. If there are 10 professors claiming that transportation is a significant negative and one who doesn't, you can bet they interview that eleventh one.

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Re: The Green Washing of Local Food Movement

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Jun 08, 2012 2:12 pm UTC

Meh, I'm waiting for the days when robots do all the farming. Kansas comes to mind in particular, with all the breezes. Why aren't there farms with wind turbines powering robotic threshers/combines/tractors that do all the planting and harvesting? I doubt the turbines would block too much light, and the farmers could just ignore fuel costs at that point.

Not sure how to move past Bosch-Haber though.

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Re: The Green Washing of Local Food Movement

Postby yurell » Fri Jun 08, 2012 2:42 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:Oh, suburbs are just as unnatural, but cities in the modern sense are far from optimal in any way whatsoever. Theres no way the modern concept of a city will survive peak oil - it'd just be nice to see a shift away from urban living be more gradual.


I'm not inclined to trust this statement. If anything, I'd think reliance on public transport would increase (which is at its most efficient inside compact cities & between cities), the number of electrical vehicles would increase (and the power necessary to make them run will come from different sources, maybe clean enough to actually move into the city proper), but the dream of owning one's own home won't become less enticing (and so the suburbs won't die).
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Re: The Green Washing of Local Food Movement

Postby Hawknc » Fri Jun 08, 2012 3:58 pm UTC

Yeah, living in a large, high-density community is only likely to increase with peak oil, rather than the other thing. When people can't afford the commute to work, they'll move closer to where the work is, and where they don't have to rely on oil-driven transportation. That's not to say that small, self-sustaining villages can't or won't exist, but in a world of 7+ billion people they're not going to be the norm.

On topic: stories like this remind me that science is *awesome*. It helps us realise things that aren't necessarily intuitive, like that local produce isn't always less energy-intensive. At the same time, it would be disingenuous to dismiss the entire local food movement as "greenwashing" based on a study of one particular county that showed that local food was still better than imported, just marginally so.
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Re: The Green Washing of Local Food Movement

Postby Ormurinn » Fri Jun 08, 2012 4:23 pm UTC

Ghostbear wrote:
Ormurinn wrote:Oh, suburbs are just as unnatural, but cities in the modern sense are far from optimal in any way whatsoever. Theres no way the modern concept of a city will survive peak oil - it'd just be nice to see a shift away from urban living be more gradual.

As transportation costs go up, cities become more economical (relative to the alternatives), not less. If everybody lived in cities, all of the necessary transportation (foods, goods, people between cities, etc.) could be switched to rail with minimal complications. If everyone lives in a rural setting, cars are going to stay the feasible transportation method. Unless you're projecting a complete collapse of connected society, we'll be becoming more and more urban, not less.


And as transportation costs increase even further, living within short distance of your food supply becomes more and more economical. A large city thats dependent on fresh food deliveries every few days or even hours, just can't servive in an environment with an intermittent energy supply. People will start growing more of their own food (to insulate against shocks in the food supply), and demanding more land to do so in - and they'll disperse, rather than congregate.

It's going to be canals that provide most of the transport infrastructure in my country in the future, IMO, with rail transport for time-intensive goods, an increase in electric vehicles, bicycles and horses.

Hawknc wrote:Yeah, living in a large, high-density community is only likely to increase with peak oil, rather than the other thing. When people can't afford the commute to work, they'll move closer to where the work is, and where they don't have to rely on oil-driven transportation. That's not to say that small, self-sustaining villages can't or won't exist, but in a world of 7+ billion people they're not going to be the norm.


Or the work is going to move closer to them. If transport becomes more expensive, It'll be the supermarkets and big businesses that suffer, and local businesses that thrive. Local businesses that are closer to their customers and their employees. Add to tat the ability to telecommute, and the myriad negative effects of living in a high density community, and I don't think increasing urbanisation is going to be an attractive choice for the majority of people.
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Re: The Green Washing of Local Food Movement

Postby Ghostbear » Fri Jun 08, 2012 4:35 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:And as transportation costs increase even further, living within short distance of your food supply becomes more and more economical. A large city thats dependent on fresh food deliveries every few days or even hours, just can't servive in an environment with an intermittent energy supply. People will start growing more of their own food (to insulate against shocks in the food supply), and demanding more land to do so in - and they'll disperse, rather than congregate.

There is far, far more that is transported than just food. Clothes, computers, games, cheap electric fans, hats, paper bags, notebooks, pencils, movies, books, duct tape, batteries... Unless the world economy collapses, then there is going to be a huge amount of goods that need to be transported for people. You can't even remove all transportation costs from food, since people will like eating foods that either aren't native to their climate, or aren't currently season where they are. With cities, the costs for all of that transportation goes down, as it's a single, unified target point, with the bulk of the individual transportation occurring within small very small distances. It also removes transportation costs for people to commute, go to school, spend time with each other, buy groceries, and so on.

Unless you are expecting a complete global economic collapse, cities are only going to become more necessary. Hell, even with a global economic collapse, cities will very likely remain more efficient, as the demand for the resources needed to sustain the cities' food supplies will go down, while still retaining their various advantages. You can't change facts by ignoring all of the variables that disagree with you.

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Re: The Green Washing of Local Food Movement

Postby Puppyclaws » Fri Jun 08, 2012 4:49 pm UTC

Ghostbear wrote:With cities, the costs for all of that transportation goes down, as it's a single, unified target point, with the bulk of the individual transportation occurring within small very small distances. It also removes transportation costs for people to commute, go to school, spend time with each other, buy groceries, and so on.

Unless you are expecting a complete global economic collapse, cities are only going to become more necessary. Hell, even with a global economic collapse, cities will very likely remain more efficient, as the demand for the resources needed to sustain the cities' food supplies will go down, while still retaining their various advantages. You can't change facts by ignoring all of the variables that disagree with you.


This. Entirely 100% this. People outside cities don't live in self-sufficient communes, and unless you force them to at gun point they never will. Cities are by far the most "green" living option that people choose today, because they limit the amount of transportation, traffic, pollution, etc. that is produced when products and individuals and employers are not all centralized. They would be even better if we made better use of rooftop spaces, but alas, we don't. Cities require some amount of rural farmland to also exist, but those farmlands in turn depend on cities for economic support (both through the market, since they need large populations to sell their product to, and subsidies; states spend more per capita on rural than urban areas, and don't even get me started on federal farm subsidies). Nobody needs suburbs, strictly environmentally speaking, but we have them and they are not going away.

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Re: The Green Washing of Local Food Movement

Postby Dauric » Fri Jun 08, 2012 5:02 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:And as transportation costs increase even further, living within short distance of your food supply becomes more and more economical. A large city thats dependent on fresh food deliveries every few days or even hours, just can't servive in an environment with an intermittent energy supply. People will start growing more of their own food (to insulate against shocks in the food supply), and demanding more land to do so in - and they'll disperse, rather than congregate.

It's going to be canals that provide most of the transport infrastructure in my country in the future, IMO, with rail transport for time-intensive goods, an increase in electric vehicles, bicycles and horses.


With a shrinking transportation infrastructure and a reliance on local food sources communities will be more vulnerable to regional hazards like droughts, plant diseases, or insect infestations. It's a classic problem with subsistence farming.

Also, personal transportation costs are horrendous in rural areas. I know, I've lived in rural Colorado. You basically have to restrict the number of times you "Go to town", because it takes a quarter to half tank (in my light truck) to get to town in the first place. You make a gigantic list of things you need to get and spend half an hour to an hour driving to get somewhere that has everything you need. This goes beyond food, like hardware to fix the house, or even to see a movie in the theaters. Electric cars only change the source of the energy, it doesn't change the increased inefficiency of transportation in rural areas.

And inclement weather.. I hope you enjoy sitting around the house. Rural roads don't benefit from the economies of scale to get regular maintenance or snow plowing. In a moderately bad winter storm, the kind in Colorado you see about once a year, you could be looking at being out of commission for a week in a rural area, where the suburbs can be functional in a day or two.

And the dust. The roads are dirt, so every time something goes down the road there's a cloud of dust. It gets on and in to everything.

And Internet... HAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHA!!!! ... Ahem... Your best bet is satellite, but that still has a roughly one-second lag time, so that severely curtails activities like online gaming and even some video streaming (so if you want to rent or purchase a video guess what goes on that list of chores to take care of while you're in town). Rural phone lines are a joke (56K modem could barely pull 28.8 through the lines out there), and cable is nonexistent unless you're willing to pay a few dozen K to have them lay the miles of cable out to your residence.

And pray to the gods of whatever community you're in.. which is typically the Christian God.. that you share interests with people in the community. The divine help you if you're in to relatively fringe activities like tabletop role-playing-games. It sucks ass to drive for the better part of an hour just to see friends and socialize in person for an afternoon, then have to drive for another hour to get home.

I've got shit to do but I could go on and on about how rural life is no panacea for modern civilization after having lived it.
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Re: The Green Washing of Local Food Movement

Postby Belial » Fri Jun 08, 2012 5:24 pm UTC

Basically, unless you're willing to live on a commune and grow literally everything you need to live, make your own clothes, mill your own lumber, etc, you're not doing anyone any favors by living rural.

In fact, not even then, because the planet cannot support everyone in the cities spreading out like that. We'd have to clear so much land that I'm pretty sure Gaia herself would taint-kick you.
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Re: The Green Washing of Local Food Movement

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Jun 08, 2012 5:28 pm UTC

Yes, that's what I hate about those communists*. Oh sure they talk about how great they are being environmentally friendly and all, but they use up more surface area than factory farming would per person. Part of the advantage of trade is that more efficient use of land/minerals can be used; country A has a comparative advantage for potatoes, B has a comparative advantage for wheat, trade can increase the total amount of food grown without extra work, or for less land used.

Not that the world wouldn't be better if clothing was made more durable so people bought less of it, if cars lasted twice as long so only half as many needed to be produced, and so forth.

*To quote Archie Bunker, "People who live in communes are communists!"
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Re: The Green Washing of Local Food Movement

Postby Diadem » Fri Jun 08, 2012 5:32 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:*To quote Archie Bunker, "People who live in communes are communists!"

LOL.

Though that would make every American a Democrat ánd a Republican. After all they live in a democratic republic.
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Re: The Green Washing of Local Food Movement

Postby Ghostbear » Fri Jun 08, 2012 5:36 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:Though that would make every American a Democrat ánd a Republican. After all they live in a democratic republic.

You might find the origins of the current two parties interesting. They're the two sides that split from the democratic-republican party.

Also, since I was only talking about from an efficiency standpoint, I would like to echo Dauric's point: living rural sucks. I hate every ounce of it, and once I can finally move out of my own rural trap, I shall never, ever, return to living in such. There is nothing redeeming about it.

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Re: The Green Washing of Local Food Movement

Postby sardia » Fri Jun 08, 2012 7:21 pm UTC

Ghostbear wrote:
Diadem wrote:Though that would make every American a Democrat ánd a Republican. After all they live in a democratic republic.

You might find the origins of the current two parties interesting. They're the two sides that split from the democratic-republican party.

Also, since I was only talking about from an efficiency standpoint, I would like to echo Dauric's point: living rural sucks. I hate every ounce of it, and once I can finally move out of my own rural trap, I shall never, ever, return to living in such. There is nothing redeeming about it.

Soon, my friend, robot farmers will arrive, and nobody will ever have to suffer through someone's fantasy about how great rural life was.
Hawknc wrote:Yeah, living in a large, high-density community is only likely to increase with peak oil, rather than the other thing. When people can't afford the commute to work, they'll move closer to where the work is, and where they don't have to rely on oil-driven transportation. That's not to say that small, self-sustaining villages can't or won't exist, but in a world of 7+ billion people they're not going to be the norm.

On topic: stories like this remind me that science is *awesome*. It helps us realise things that aren't necessarily intuitive, like that local produce isn't always less energy-intensive. At the same time, it would be disingenuous to dismiss the entire local food movement as "greenwashing" based on a study of one particular county that showed that local food was still better than imported, just marginally so.

Yea, I agree. I meant greenwashing as how people think doing local food is a panacea to our problems by sounding environmentally friendly. What local food means to me is I get food that tastes great and is fresher than normal. In addition, I would like to see repetition of his study in other areas to make sure this isn't some fluke or some mitigating circumstance.

Did anybody catch the mention of how changing the composition of our diets would reduce emissions? Because cud chewing animals, cows + lamb, emit methane; eating less of them will mean less of them will be produced, reducing emissions. Solution: Use eat kangaroos, they don't emit methane despite eating the same thing. Better solution: Develop a way to transplant the bacteria that digest plants from kangaroos to cows. Best solution: Robotic hybrid kangaroo-cows or Kows.
Off topic: Whatever happened to those proposals to harvest methane emissions from farms and then sell/dispose of it?
Last edited by sardia on Fri Jun 08, 2012 7:34 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: The Green Washing of Local Food Movement

Postby Ormurinn » Fri Jun 08, 2012 7:27 pm UTC

Ghostbear wrote:There is far, far more that is transported than just food. Clothes, computers, games, cheap electric fans, hats, paper bags, notebooks, pencils, movies, books, duct tape, batteries... Unless the world economy collapses, then there is going to be a huge amount of goods that need to be transported for people. You can't even remove all transportation costs from food, since people will like eating foods that either aren't native to their climate, or aren't currently season where they are. With cities, the costs for all of that transportation goes down, as it's a single, unified target point, with the bulk of the individual transportation occurring within small very small distances. It also removes transportation costs for people to commute, go to school, spend time with each other, buy groceries, and so on.

Unless you are expecting a complete global economic collapse, cities are only going to become more necessary. Hell, even with a global economic collapse, cities will very likely remain more efficient, as the demand for the resources needed to sustain the cities' food supplies will go down, while still retaining their various advantages. You can't change facts by ignoring all of the variables that disagree with you.


On your 1st point - i don't think that the global economy is going to go through the sea-change of peak fossil-fuel utilisation, without people quickly stopping buying cheap tat from china. People are going to buy more expensive, more durable, locally produced products. People aren't going to eat foods from other countries for anything more than a special treat either - we're not going to have the obscene sight of bananas in every english supermarket.

Yes, if we assume the world is going to contort itself to remain as similar to today as possible, then putting people into hives is more efficient from a strict energy utilisation perspective. How are those hives going to cope with a 3 day interruption in food supplies though? and how is stacking people up like this going to compare, all things considered, with a load of smaller towns and villages, producing a good portion if not all of their own food.

Puppyclaws wrote:This. Entirely 100% this. People outside cities don't live in self-sufficient communes, and unless you force them to at gun point they never will. Cities are by far the most "green" living option that people choose today, because they limit the amount of transportation, traffic, pollution, etc. that is produced when products and individuals and employers are not all centralized. They would be even better if we made better use of rooftop spaces, but alas, we don't. Cities require some amount of rural farmland to also exist, but those farmlands in turn depend on cities for economic support (both through the market, since they need large populations to sell their product to, and subsidies; states spend more per capita on rural than urban areas, and don't even get me started on federal farm subsidies). Nobody needs suburbs, strictly environmentally speaking, but we have them and they are not going away.


People have lived that way for most of human history - and were never forced at gunpoint to do so. Farmers were regularly forced at gun and spearpoint to provide food to cities though - look at the Bolshevik management of the russian economy, or basically all of the Roman empire. Anecdotally, my family grows maybe 25% of all the food we need, without really trying, and could easily push it to 50%. We do this on less land than the average house here has. No-one forced us at gunpoint to do this.

Theres a definate disparity between cities and villages, in that cities need food from the vilages just for their survival, where villages get some nifty mass-produced goods from the cities they can do without.

Dauric wrote:With a shrinking transportation infrastructure and a reliance on local food sources communities will be more vulnerable to regional hazards like droughts, plant diseases, or insect infestations. It's a classic problem with subsistence farming.


Absolutely - but thats eliminated by regional trade. Im just suggesting that dispersing communities shortens supply chains. I'm not advocating subsistence farming.

Dauric wrote:"I hate the country"


I live in a rural area. The nearest city is "England's first environment city." I haven't encountered any of these problems - my family cant afford a car, and we get by.

CorruptUser wrote:Not that the world wouldn't be better if clothing was made more durable so people bought less of it, if cars lasted twice as long so only half as many needed to be produced, and so forth.


You cant have both. Mass production requires overproduction to remain profitable - and that requires planned obsolescence to maintain market size.
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Re: The Green Washing of Local Food Movement

Postby Arrian » Fri Jun 08, 2012 7:44 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:
Dauric wrote:"I hate the country"


I live in a rural area. The nearest city is "England's first environment city." I haven't encountered any of these problems - my family cant afford a car, and we get by.


Umm, the land area of Colorado is 270,000 km^2, the land area of England is 130,000 km^2. "Rural" England is generally pretty close to "suburban" America in population density. When he says he drives an hour to town to pick up groceries, he means he drives 60-90 kilometers to town to get groceries, there's no way to make it without a car since the population density is far too low to support public transportation. And the fuel efficiency of a car or pickup full of groceries is nowhere near that of a semi truck full of food, and not even a rounding error for a train hauling ten thousand or a ship hauling a hundred thousand tons. That's why the carbon footprint of transportation is trivial in the carbon footprint of food production in general.

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Re: The Green Washing of Local Food Movement

Postby Ghostbear » Fri Jun 08, 2012 8:03 pm UTC

sardia wrote:Soon, my friend, robot farmers will arrive, and nobody will ever have to suffer through someone's fantasy about how great rural life was.

They better have time machines so they can fix it for me too! In which case: awesome, who invented the time machine? (And can the robots bring one for me too?)

Ormurinn wrote:On your 1st point - i don't think that the global economy is going to go through the sea-change of peak fossil-fuel utilisation, without people quickly stopping buying cheap tat from china. People are going to buy more expensive, more durable, locally produced products. People aren't going to eat foods from other countries for anything more than a special treat either - we're not going to have the obscene sight of bananas in every english supermarket.

Yes, if we assume the world is going to contort itself to remain as similar to today as possible, then putting people into hives is more efficient from a strict energy utilisation perspective. How are those hives going to cope with a 3 day interruption in food supplies though? and how is stacking people up like this going to compare, all things considered, with a load of smaller towns and villages, producing a good portion if not all of their own food.

I can basically sum up my whole response in two sentences: Oil is most vital for last-mile transportation. Cities minimize the costs of last-mile transportation; rural living maximizes it. I'm going to go into more detail though, because I love details.

Durable goods still need to be transported. People still need to commute to work, to go to school, to get to the store. Beyond that, you're missing that the big cost here is the last mile transportation costs. Shipping shit across the Pacific could still be made cheap after oil prices itself into the stratosphere -- making huge freighters nuclear powered is not only feasible, it's already been done. It just isn't economical right now -- it would almost certainly be more profitable (which is what drives events) to switch to such than to switch over a durable goods only model. Freight trains would be a natural outcome (unless we invent something even better) for inter-city transport, and those can easily be made to not rely on oil (technology already exists, and as far as I know, is in use as well!). Cities make transportation that is oil based significantly less essential; rural living does the opposite. Living in cities would still allow us to get those bananas, those out of season oranges, those coconuts, even after oil prices spike, because cities will be able to afford the (after freight/freighter adaptation to new conditions) transportation costs for such.

Why are you assuming interruptions in the food supply happening to cities but not to rural farmers? The city is able to have its food supply distributed across vast areas -- if 100% of the population of the US lived in cities, we could turn the entire mid-west into one giant farm (OK, that's not that different from right now), along with almost all of the heartland in the south. Disease, drought, too much/too little rain, insect plague, etc. hit one area? That's OK! Just get food from the next area. If you live in a rural area, and one of those things hits your food supply? Well now you either need to travel somewhere far away (but you couldn't afford to do that in this scenario, if methods for such even still existed on the individual level), or would just have to contend yourself with starving to death. Cities will not see disruptions in food supply merely from being cities: in fact, the exact opposite.

I just don't think you understand the logistics that the world operates on.

Arrian wrote:
Ormurinn wrote:
Dauric wrote:"I hate the country"


I live in a rural area. The nearest city is "England's first environment city." I haven't encountered any of these problems - my family cant afford a car, and we get by.

Umm, the land area of Colorado is 270,000 km^2, the land area of England is 130,000 km^2. "Rural" England is generally pretty close to "suburban" America in population density. When he says he drives an hour to town to pick up groceries, he means he drives 60-90 kilometers to town to get groceries, there's no way to make it without a car since the population density is far too low to support public transportation. And the fuel efficiency of a car or pickup full of groceries is nowhere near that of a semi truck full of food, and not even a rounding error for a train hauling ten thousand or a ship hauling a hundred thousand tons. That's why the carbon footprint of transportation is trivial in the carbon footprint of food production in general.

Also, this. There's a reason the US loves cars so much more than Europe. Even if you completely remove London's metropolitan area from the equation (12-14 million people -- I used 13 million), England has a population density of 749 people per square mile (289 / KM2). Colorado (including the metropolitan area of Denver) has a population density of 49 people per square mile (19 / KM2). Denver's metropolitan area also makes up 60.7% of the population of Colorado -- removing that reduces it to just 19 people per square mile. England is almost 40 times more densely populated.

EDIT: I should note that I did not feel it was necessary to subtract the area of those metropolitan areas, as I figured that would (1) not change the actual answer very much, and (2) make the calculations take longer than I felt like putting into them.

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Re: The Green Washing of Local Food Movement

Postby Puppyclaws » Fri Jun 08, 2012 8:33 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:People have lived that way for most of human history - and were never forced at gunpoint to do so. Farmers were regularly forced at gun and spearpoint to provide food to cities though - look at the Bolshevik management of the russian economy, or basically all of the Roman empire. Anecdotally, my family grows maybe 25% of all the food we need, without really trying, and could easily push it to 50%. We do this on less land than the average house here has. No-one forced us at gunpoint to do this.

Theres a definate disparity between cities and villages, in that cities need food from the vilages just for their survival, where villages get some nifty mass-produced goods from the cities they can do without.


I was talking about people today. However, if you are counting most of human history to be post the agricultural revolution then no, they haven't. Communities have existed with a division of labor for a long, long time. Some people farm and spend their time on food production. Not most people, and increasingly fewer and fewer over time. People engaged in trading and bartering and then merchants got involved, and trade and all that increased. That's not a self-sufficient community. That involves travel, trading, sales, etc. Which requires roads and people to pay for and upkeep those roads, methods of travel, and so on. And you are not a self-sufficient community either if you are only producing 25% of your food. You also don't mention whether your produce your own clothes and other basic necessities, or if that falls under nifty mass-produced goods that rural folk can do without.

You seem to be very bothered by the idea that it's a mutually beneficial relationship. What rural communities get from cities (besides paved roads, buses, quality hospitals, and the other things that come out of the taxes of a large tax base impossible to have in rural areas because of population density) is a chance to move beyond subsistence living. It's not just "shiny baubles." But you seem to be very about subsistence living (for somebody posting on internet fora); maybe that's some of the misunderstanding/difference.

A lot of it, too, is as others have mentioned a national thing. Rural in the states means something a bit different from rural there.

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Re: The Green Washing of Local Food Movement

Postby Zamfir » Fri Jun 08, 2012 9:21 pm UTC

Anecdotally, my family grows maybe 25% of all the food we need, without really trying, and could easily push it to 50%. We do this on less land than the average house here has. No-one forced us at gunpoint to do this.


Are you sure about this? Does it include bread and other staples? Oil ? Animal products, and the animal feed required? If you're vegans, you presumably eat quite some legumes etc., which are not very area-intensive to produce. And what do you use as fertilizer? Chemicals, or manure? Have you counted the animal feed for the animals that produce the manure?

I have seen estimates for the Netherlands (presumably similar results apply for England), that suggests that you need, at a bare minimum, about 400 square meter per person for a fully vegan menu, plus some external source of manure or fertilizer. Meat and animal products raise this number manifold, depending on whether it's pgis or cows or chickes, etc.

This is based on productivity figures for professional intensive agriculture, so it probably overestimates the productivity you would achieve on a small-scale hobby plot. Also, such agriculture is hardly a local, self-sufficient business. It needs chemical plants and roller bearing factories and chromium mines and semiconductor fabs to function.

Of all the people we need to produce our food, most work in cities. They just don't know they are making food, they think they are managing a dev team that makes a website for a temp agency that supplies workers to the travel agency that arranges the flights for the people that are selecting the factory for the computer screens of the account managers of the shipping company that will carry the rubber for the tires of the combine harvester that will cut the grains for the pastas I will eat in 2021.

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Re: The Green Washing of Local Food Movement

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Jun 08, 2012 10:33 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:Not that the world wouldn't be better if clothing was made more durable so people bought less of it, if cars lasted twice as long so only half as many needed to be produced, and so forth.


You cant have both. Mass production requires overproduction to remain profitable - and that requires planned obsolescence to maintain market size.


There are several things wrong with this. First, I never said my vision involved mass production. Second, mass production does NOT require planned obsolescence; military hardware can be built to last (look at the F15 and A10) while produced en masse, and while they do go obsolete it's because of new technology not because manufacturers/marketers made an intentionally inferior product.

In my little pipe-dream, the production is focused a lot more on quality, which can still be labor or industry intensive. Because producing something well once is cheaper than doing it cheaply 5 times.
Last edited by CorruptUser on Fri Jun 08, 2012 10:36 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: The Green Washing of Local Food Movement

Postby Ormurinn » Fri Jun 08, 2012 10:34 pm UTC

Ghostbear wrote:I can basically sum up my whole response in two sentences: Oil is most vital for last-mile transportation. Cities minimize the costs of last-mile transportation; rural living maximizes it. I'm going to go into more detail though, because I love details.

Durable goods still need to be transported. People still need to commute to work, to go to school, to get to the store. Beyond that, you're missing that the big cost here is the last mile transportation costs. Shipping shit across the Pacific could still be made cheap after oil prices itself into the stratosphere -- making huge freighters nuclear powered is not only feasible, it's already been done. It just isn't economical right now -- it would almost certainly be more profitable (which is what drives events) to switch to such than to switch over a durable goods only model. Freight trains would be a natural outcome (unless we invent something even better) for inter-city transport, and those can easily be made to not rely on oil (technology already exists, and as far as I know, is in use as well!). Cities make transportation that is oil based significantly less essential; rural living does the opposite. Living in cities would still allow us to get those bananas, those out of season oranges, those coconuts, even after oil prices spike, because cities will be able to afford the (after freight/freighter adaptation to new conditions) transportation costs for such.


I'm no expert in transportation - I was going off common sense (To me, it seems that the last mile of transportation is the easiest to change from oil, thats walking distance!) and what cleverer people than me have written in Mutualist texts. I can dig up some sources if you like - but you've obviously got more expertise in this area, and I can't disagree with the majority of your conclusions here.[/quote]

Ghostbear wrote:Why are you assuming interruptions in the food supply happening to cities but not to rural farmers? The city is able to have its food supply distributed across vast areas -- if 100% of the population of the US lived in cities, we could turn the entire mid-west into one giant farm (OK, that's not that different from right now), along with almost all of the heartland in the south. Disease, drought, too much/too little rain, insect plague, etc. hit one area? That's OK! Just get food from the next area. If you live in a rural area, and one of those things hits your food supply? Well now you either need to travel somewhere far away (but you couldn't afford to do that in this scenario, if methods for such even still existed on the individual level), or would just have to contend yourself with starving to death. Cities will not see disruptions in food supply merely from being cities: in fact, the exact opposite.

I just don't think you understand the logistics that the world operates on.


Again - I'm no expert. However, there are hundreds more links in the transport chain to a city, and less leeway if one of them goes, due to the higher population density. If theres a fuel price shock, or power lines for your electric trains go down for too long, or if rural communities hold out on selling produce to get a better deal etc. The city supply lines seem more exposed to shocks to the system. The shortest possible supply line from me to nourishment is to pick up an airgun and walk half a mile to hunt small game, or to forage in the waste land. I could walk a mile to the nearest large farm and buy direct from the farmer. Its shorter and nearly foolproof.

I think you underestimate farmers - they've been dealing with drought and disease since before recorded history. Growing a variety of crops, and succession sowing makes farms much less vulnerable. Its the agressive monoculture caused by factory farming that renders agricultural land more vulnerable, and increases the spend on pesticides.

Puppyclaws wrote:I was talking about people today. However, if you are counting most of human history to be post the agricultural revolution then no, they haven't. Communities have existed with a division of labor for a long, long time. Some people farm and spend their time on food production. Not most people, and increasingly fewer and fewer over time. People engaged in trading and bartering and then merchants got involved, and trade and all that increased. That's not a self-sufficient community. That involves travel, trading, sales, etc. Which requires roads and people to pay for and upkeep those roads, methods of travel, and so on. And you are not a self-sufficient community either if you are only producing 25% of your food. You also don't mention whether your produce your own clothes and other basic necessities, or if that falls under nifty mass-produced goods that rural folk can do without.


Theres always been division of labour, but to pretend that most individuals didnt grow at least some of their own food throughout most of history is absurd. Specialised roles like blacksmiths and clergy have always existed, but the majority of most communities up until the industrial revolution were farmers. I'm not suggesting we return completely to that model, but people producing some of their own food is a good thing.

Its uneconomical at present for us to produce more than a quarter of out own food. The same goes for clothes, though mending shoes and clothes is something we do.

Puppyclaws wrote:You seem to be very bothered by the idea that it's a mutually beneficial relationship. What rural communities get from cities (besides paved roads, buses, quality hospitals, and the other things that come out of the taxes of a large tax base impossible to have in rural areas because of population density) is a chance to move beyond subsistence living. It's not just "shiny baubles." But you seem to be very about subsistence living (for somebody posting on internet fora); maybe that's some of the misunderstanding/difference.


I'm not bothered by that implication, I just think it misses some of the whole story. The vast disparity in power between supermarket chains and farmers is grinding them into poverty, and thats a problem. I think a redistribution to valuing the land and people who nourish us is long overdue.

I'm not at all about subsistence living - i like nice things. I'm all about self sufficiency though - we're people, not insects, we should be able to look after ourselves, individually and as a society. I don't appreciate waste either, which is what shipping coconuts to England is when native alternatives are availiable.

Zamfir wrote:Are you sure about this? Does it include bread and other staples? Oil ? Animal products, and the animal feed required? If you're vegans, you presumably eat quite some legumes etc., which are not very area-intensive to produce. And what do you use as fertilizer? Chemicals, or manure? Have you counted the animal feed for the animals that produce the manure?


For bread we buy flour in bulk and bake our own. Oil is bought, because of economic factors - likewise with dairy products because it's illegal for us to keep goats. We have enough chickens to provide 7-10 eggs per day, and thats where a lot of our animal protein comes from. We're not vegans, but we grow a lot of legumes on a plot we rent from the council, for the reasons you state. We buy in meat because it's illegal for us to keep pigs too. Fertiliser is chicken shit. The chicken feed is about half grains we buy for them, and the rest comes from inedibe weeds and grass we gather, and from turning the earth to get them insects. Every summer we grab a freezer's worth of berries and fruit from an area of disused railway, and we have fruit trees to augment this. If times get any harder, we're planning on hunting rabbits and pigeons. Most of the labour comes from my Mum, who doesn't work.

Zamfir wrote:I have seen estimates for the Netherlands (presumably similar results apply for England), that suggests that you need, at a bare minimum, about 400 square meter per person for a fully vegan menu, plus some external source of manure or fertilizer. Meat and animal products raise this number manifold, depending on whether it's pgis or cows or chickes, etc.

This is based on productivity figures for professional intensive agriculture, so it probably overestimates the productivity you would achieve on a small-scale hobby plot. Also, such agriculture is hardly a local, self-sufficient business. It needs chemical plants and roller bearing factories and chromium mines and semiconductor fabs to function.


Im sure we'd need a lot more land to become self sufficient - we've focused on getting our hands mainly on cheap, low maintainance sources of protein, because it's protein that costs.

Im also well aware of how important chemical engineering is to agriculture. Peak oil is going to fuck that over too.

CorruptUser wrote:There are several things wrong with this. First, I never said my vision involved mass production. Second, mass production does NOT require planned obsolescence; military hardware can be built to last (look at the F15 and A10) while produced en masse, and while they do go obsolete it'se because of new technology not because manufacturers/marketers made an intentionally inferior product.


Mass production requires some form of impetus to constantly keep buying more and more, because otherwise you reach market saturation. Ford's slogan used to be £"every household needs one" and it became "Every household needs two" after that. You can provide this impetus with planned obsolescence, or with marketing (that crazy thing that makes people buy branded staples) or by counting on the advancement of technology. The military is a special case cause it's effectively tailor-made to eat up excess consumption, you spend a good chunk of your GDP on things that aren't just productive, but antiproductive - they exist only to break and get broken, and just in case you don't get the war that business was hoping for, they'll be obsolete soon anyway.

I assumed mass production because it has a symbiotic relationship with wide scale trade - mass production is only viable when massive markets are availiable, otherwise it is outcompeted by local lean manufacturing. Those massive markets are only possible with cheap transport infrastructure.
"Progress" - Technological advances masking societal decay.

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Re: The Green Washing of Local Food Movement

Postby Dauric » Fri Jun 08, 2012 10:46 pm UTC

Lots-O'-People wrote:<Good stuff about population density disparity that I was going to quote but decided to omit because this post got a lot longer than I had initially planned.>


Yeah, that hour of drive is at 55 mph, or 88 kph. That's a long time to be driving. Going to college I would double those times going in to downtown Denver. I was fortunate that for a number of years I was able to room with a friend that lived in the downtown during the week.

The nearest bus stop to my parents' house -was- the next town over, now it's two towns over, and there's only twelve buses daily. Five go into the metro in the morning rush, seven go out of the metro in the evening rush.

I found the population density info interesting, I'll tack on a few more comparisons for the entertainment value:

Including England's metro areas, the entire nation has a population density that comes between the first and second most densely populated states in the U.S. (England being 1023 Vs. New Jersey: 1189 and Rhode Island: 1006). Even removing London's metro population and using Ghostbear's 749/mi2 only places it between number 3 Massachusetts(840) and number 4 Connecticut (739).

Colorado is 35'th in population density, and is only slightly more than half the U.S. average(88).

Just to the north of Garm and I is Wyoming where they have slightly fewer than six people per square mile at the lowest population density in the contiguous United States. One of my friends who I game with regularly was born and raised in Wyoming. You literally couldn't pay him enough to move back there. I mean literally, the recent oil boom in Wyoming has a lot of jobs up there and no-one to fill them, he's worked on oil drilling sites as an electrical engineer so he was qualified and for a good-paying position, and while he was tempted by the jobs and the pay offered was very high across the board, he had every desire to never live in Wyoming ever again precisely because it is just too incredifuckingly remote.

Edit:
Ormurinn wrote:To me, it seems that the last mile of transportation is the easiest to change from oil, thats walking distance!

2 things:

The 'last Mile" is metaphorical. It's the distance between the rail distribution centers and the markets where the goods are sold to the end consumer. It's not one literal mile, but more likely a few dozen miles.

Secondly, that "Last Mile" is still tons of product to ship. Maybe you can Hulk out and carry an entire tractor trailer (59 metric tons) in a single go, even for that literal one last mile, but walking isn't an option for shipping between the rail depot and the marketplace as a standard practice.
Last edited by Dauric on Fri Jun 08, 2012 11:12 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Green Washing of Local Food Movement

Postby sardia » Fri Jun 08, 2012 10:57 pm UTC

A couple of questions, how much space is the area you hunt or forage in? How many people could this area sustain? What if we took 1/4 of the population of my town, not a giant city like chicago, but my town(800,000/4= 20000 people) and they moved out there. Would they each need their own shrubland to hunt and forage?
Last point, how much time did it take for you to gather food? Imagine what you would do with your time if you didn't have to forage or hunt for food.

Rural life can't be for everybody, there's just not enough room. Unless Newt Gingrich get's his moon colony up and running, the way we accommodate future population growth(or just raise the living standards of the current population) is to maximize efficiency and minimize pollution. Change is scary, for example, I don't want to drink my own sewage water, but the aquifers are running dry, so sewage water that's been treated goes into my tea every day. =\ Sure I could have complained to my congressman but I didn't.

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Re: The Green Washing of Local Food Movement

Postby PeteP » Fri Jun 08, 2012 11:00 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:I think you underestimate farmers - they've been dealing with drought and disease since before recorded history. Growing a variety of crops, and succession sowing makes farms much less vulnerable. Its the agressive monoculture caused by factory farming that renders agricultural land more vulnerable, and increases the spend on pesticides.

And it's not like countless people have died because of hunger while the farmers used all their skills to produce food. Oh wait... it seems 10% of Englands population died during that one. Seriously the track record during recorded history isn't that great. That they had to deal with it for a long time doesn't mean much if they regularly failed.
Last edited by PeteP on Sat Jun 09, 2012 8:42 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Green Washing of Local Food Movement

Postby aoeu » Fri Jun 08, 2012 11:20 pm UTC

Dauric wrote:And inclement weather.. I hope you enjoy sitting around the house. Rural roads don't benefit from the economies of scale to get regular maintenance or snow plowing. In a moderately bad winter storm, the kind in Colorado you see about once a year, you could be looking at being out of commission for a week in a rural area, where the suburbs can be functional in a day or two.

Isn't the cost of a single snowplow + operation negligible compared to the cost of a few dozen miles of (asphalt) road? At worst you would have to deal with less than an hour of snowfall, and in practice you'd catch up a plow (or vice versa) and drive behind it. The roads being blocked sounds more like somebody being a little cheap rather than it being expensive to clear the roads.

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Re: The Green Washing of Local Food Movement

Postby Dauric » Fri Jun 08, 2012 11:58 pm UTC

aoeu wrote:
Dauric wrote:And inclement weather.. I hope you enjoy sitting around the house. Rural roads don't benefit from the economies of scale to get regular maintenance or snow plowing. In a moderately bad winter storm, the kind in Colorado you see about once a year, you could be looking at being out of commission for a week in a rural area, where the suburbs can be functional in a day or two.

Isn't the cost of a single snowplow + operation negligible compared to the cost of a few dozen miles of (asphalt) road? At worst you would have to deal with less than an hour of snowfall, and in practice you'd catch up a plow (or vice versa) and drive behind it. The roads being blocked sounds more like somebody being a little cheap rather than it being expensive to clear the roads.


I'm not going to claim that rural areas don't have a minimum of their share of grift in the county treasury, however you have to realize that the budget for road maintenance all year long typically includes snowplowing. That budget is taken out of the property taxes of the people living there.

Now, if your property has an exposure to the road of.. say 20 meters, then every 1,000 meters of road has 50 people paying property taxes that help support that road. If your property has exposure to say 250 meters of road then there's 4 people paying to support that same stretch of road. "Ag-Status" (Ag = Agricultural) land has significantly lower property taxes than say residential or commercial, so it's not like those 4 people are paying 13 times the property taxes to cover the difference.

Taxes from gas tend to go to the state funds, and those go towards the state highways, the interstates, and to some degree the major metropolitan areas. Rural counties see some of it, but since distribution of those funds is often based in some part on population what the rural counties see is minimal.
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Re: The Green Washing of Local Food Movement

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Jun 09, 2012 12:04 am UTC

Ormurinn wrote:I live in a rural area. The nearest city is "England's first environment city." I haven't encountered any of these problems - my family cant afford a car, and we get by.
Hahaha.

Yeah, as others have pointed out, the entire United Kingdom is smaller than the state of Colorado, and has ten times as many people. You're working with an astoundingly different notion of what "rural" means than pretty much anyone posting from the US.

aoeu wrote:Isn't the cost of a single snowplow + operation negligible compared to the cost of a few dozen miles of (asphalt) road?
Maybe, but you don't have to repave the road as often as you'd have to plow it to actually keep it clear. Even in cities where there are hundreds of people per mile of road, heavy snowfall in years when the budget's tight can result in lots of side streets not getting plowed often enough.
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Re: The Green Washing of Local Food Movement

Postby Dauric » Sat Jun 09, 2012 12:34 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
aoeu wrote:Isn't the cost of a single snowplow + operation negligible compared to the cost of a few dozen miles of (asphalt) road?
Maybe, but you don't have to repave the road as often as you'd have to plow it to actually keep it clear. Even in cities where there are hundreds of people per mile of road, heavy snowfall in years when the budget's tight can result in lots of side streets not getting plowed often enough.


And apologies for not hitting this point earlier, I was thinking about it but apparently there'a a problem between my brain and the keyboard...

Rural roads aren't paved. They're dirt roads re-graded*... bi-monthly .. more or less depending on the county roads budget to deal with "Washboarding" erosion and potholes and such. The county hadn't the money to pave them in the first place, so it's not like they had spare change after the roads were paved to take care of 24/7 emergency plowing for a heavy snowstorm. One really heavy storm of 2+ feet** can easily be half a year's worth of road maintenance to clear.

*essentially "Plowing" the dirt back in to a flat surface
** 2 feet is pretty much the minimum before rural counties will bother with anything other than "natural snow removal" (IE: letting it melt on it's own). Metro areas 6" to a foot before they bother.
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Re: The Green Washing of Local Food Movement

Postby Belial » Sat Jun 09, 2012 4:13 am UTC

PeteP wrote:
Ormurinn wrote:I think you underestimate farmers - they've been dealing with drought and disease since before recorded history. Growing a variety of crops, and succession sowing makes farms much less vulnerable. Its the agressive monoculture caused by factory farming that renders agricultural land more vulnerable, and increases the spend on pesticides.

And it's not like countless people have died because of hunger while the farmers used all their skills to produce food. [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Famine_of_1315–1317]Oh wait...[/url] it seems 10% of Englands population died during that one. Seriously the track record during recorded history isn't that great. That they had to deal with it for a long time doesn't mean much if they regularly failed.


And even when it was working, folks were regularly pretty malnourished. There's a reason people have been getting progressively taller and more robust with each generation for a long while, and trust that it has fuckall to do with mate selection. It just turns out that the further you go back in time, the crappier we were eating.
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